The original party (Gabriel, Valen & Blars) found themselves in the Free City of GreyHawk (capital of the province of GreyHawk) after escorting a merchant caravan to the city. While they were unable to immediately find more work doing caravan guard duty (good work for young adventurers), they overheard in a tavern in the Thieves’ District a good deal of talk about recent troubles with banditry at the well-traveled crossroads near the village of Hommlet, several days ride north of GreyHawk. The party knew a little of the history of Hommlet: it was a small town at the edge of what, a century or so ago, had been the territory of the Temple of Elemental Evil, a stronghold for the forces of several demons/evil demigods. Hommlet had been often under attack by these forces, and was eventually a staging area for the forces of good, which overtook the temple, slew and scattered it’s armies, and razed the temple and its surrounding outposts and minor churches.
Thinking that such a town might need additional guards or might hire someone to root out the bandits, the three struck off.
After a couple days of walking, they came upon a merchant who, upon hearing Gabriel explain in great detail about the perils of the Hommlet crossroads, was persuaded to take them on as additional guards for his caravan. They travelled this way to Hommlet.
In Hommlet, the party found (by listening in on the conversations of a Guard captain named “Lt. Paul"): 1) the town guards did not appear interested in taking on newcomers, 2) the town guards regarded it their duty to protect the town, but not to police the crossroads or hunt bandits, 3) several merchants staying at the inn had been robbed and were furious that the town guard would do nothing to protect them, other than recommend hiring better caravan guards. Upon a visit to the town mercantile to buy Blars a helm, the party met the proprietor, Jessup, who lamented that the banditry was causing problems for him (merchants and traders were avoiding Hommlet if they could, meaning loss of revenue). He was able to describe the banditry based upon merchant reports he’d heard:
1) The bandits were reportedly humans
2) They work dark clothes/cloaks
3) They worked in small groups of 3-8
4) They had not ventured into town
5) They had injured several caravan guards in the past year, but killed only one
6) A lot of goods were being stolen
7) Merchants and traders were starting to avoid the area
Jessup speculated that the bandits might be holed-up at a forgotten minor church afiliated with the old Temple, about a day’s march northwest. he drew a crude map to the church and offered the party 5gp for each bandit head they brought to him. The party immediately set off to the northwest toward the church.
As they set camp for the night, Valen heard some additional travelers following the same track. He briefly left the party and tracked the newcomers. They were one human-sized and two smaller humanoids in dark cloaks. Not wanting to move too far from his party, he returned to camp.
In the morning, the party finished their journey to the ruined church, a squat building partially sunken into the swamp. They carefully traversed a swampy, quicksand-filled open stretch to reach the front of the church, where they found that heavy chains barring the doors had been recently broken. They carefully went inside, examining the upper level of a church apparently dedicated to worshipping hideous frogs and/or a young man in armor who seemed to have frogs as followers.
After examining, but not disturbing, the upper level, they followed a recent set of tracks down a darkened flight of stairs. At the bottom, they carefully planned an assault on two goblins they spied, but were instead surprised by a sneak-attack from their human companion. After taking serious damage, the party defeated the three. Upon investigation, they found two goblins and one human, all in black leather armor with black cloaks, adorned with an unfamiliar embroidered symbol of a yellow and red flaming eye. They also found, on one of the goblins, a map to this temple, along with crude drawings of a huge sword and a phallic statue. A small amount of treasure was located in an abandoned bedroom, and several robes and a bone clarinet were taken from an anteroom. The bodies were hidden beneath the strangely damp bed.
Barring the door to the anteroom, the party rested.